Teen Killed in Work Accident Used Identity of Adult

Teen Killed in Work Accident Used Identity of Adult

(RepublicanPress.org) – Controversy continues to surround America’s child labor laws, particularly when jobs involve working with dangerous materials and machinery. A Mississippi poultry plant recently faced some tough questions after a 16-year-old Guatemalan immigrant died after becoming entangled in some machinery he was servicing. A recent report indicated that a hiring service improperly confirmed his identity as a 32-year-old.

Tragedy Strikes a Mississippi Poultry Plant

Earlier this summer, media outlets reported that company officials from Mar-Jac Poultry confirmed that Duvan Tomas Perez died in an on-the-job accident. They issued a statement conceding that news of the underage boy’s death was compounded after they “learned the victim was a minor.” The company said it relied on outside staffing companies to screen and hire applicants but declined to provide further details.

Mar-Jac claimed it required those services to use the federal government’s E-Verify system to confirm the immigration status and ages of all applicants through the Department of Homeland Security. It issued a statement saying the company would never place a worker, particularly a minor, in harm’s way. Mar-Jac also advised that it opened an internal investigation into the incident.

The US Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division and OSHA also opened investigations into Perez’s death and the circumstances surrounding his hiring since federal labor laws prohibit individuals under 18 from working in poultry plants and slaughterhouses due to the dangerous nature of that work.

The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has an entire webpage detailing the risks associated with the meat packing industry. OSHA listed several common problems, including workers’ exposure to dangerous equipment, hazardous chemicals, high noise levels, and slippery floors. The federal agency also noted the long-term risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders.

NBC Confirms Teenager Used an Older Person’s Identity To Obtain Job

On December 18, NBC News published an article providing additional details about the incident as part of its yearlong investigation of labor practices involving children and an upcoming documentary entitled “Slaughterhouse Children.” The media company reported that Perez managed to secure the job at the Hattiesburg plant using the identity of a 32-year-old man.

Investigators for NBC News spoke with Mar-Jac’s lawyer, Larry Stine, about Perez’s death. He readily conceded that the boy didn’t resemble a 32-year-old after being shown a photograph of the teen. He also said that company officials were “surprised and somewhat horrified” after learning the worker’s actual age. However, he appeared to downplay the situation by claiming that Perez could pass for 18, based on the photo provided by NBC.

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